Incredibly although I have only been in Eagle Pass a little over a month, I have been invited to preach the opening night of the novena to Santa Teresita del Nino Jesus at the Carmel in Morelos, Coahuila, Mexico about an hour and a half away. Here is my reflection.
I want to thank Mother for inviting me to preach on this opening night of the Novena to St. Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. I am new to the area, and as you can tell my Spanish is not so good. However I believe that it is by God’s Providence that I am here and so I will share what I can. You are here by God’s Providence as well. Yes you chose to come tonight, but only after the Holy Spirit invited you. The Holy Spirit called you by name to be here. There is a grace that he has prepared for you and will give to you through little Theresa. As he has said in the Gospel, “to the one who has more will be given.” So you have received the grace to be here tonight and now you should expect that our Lord has even more graces to give to you. Therefore do not be afraid to bring your requests to Him through St. Theresa in this novena. There are many things that one could say about the Little Flower. She is a Doctor of the Church. She has written the famous outline of her spirituality in her autobiography The Story of a Soul. We have many of her letters that we could reflect upon. We even have the beautiful story of her vocation. However I will leave those serious topics for the other priests to address this week. Instead I simply want to talk to you tonight about her image or more accurately her statue which we have all seen so often. When we first look at her statue it seems very simple. Theresa is in her Carmelite Habit with a tiny smile on her face, and in her arms are roses and a crucifix. We have seen her standing in our churches a thousand times. But I invite you to look closer. She has told us she would shower down roses from heaven, but look in her arms. In her arms the statue in Eagle Pass, she holds seven roses. Seven. Why? Because before she showers down roses from heaven she wants each of us to recognize the roses that we already possess. The roses she possessed while here on earth. These roses are the Sacraments. The sacraments strengthened, and nourished St. Theresa while on earth. She was especially strengthened by the Eucharist and Confession. In her arms are the roses that she invites you to embrace. It is no good to simply come to the novena to ask for favors if you do not accept in your hearts what has already been given. You are called as a Catholic to live a sacramental life. This is the life that St. Theresa lived. This is the life that Mother and the sisters here live. And it is the life you are called to live. Come receive the Eucharist each night, but be prepared. Confess your sins during the novena. By participating in the Sacraments you will be drawn into the Loving Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why St. Theresa holds the crucifix as well. From our saviors wounded side flowed love and mercy. From his side the Sacraments flow out and it is through the Sacraments we find shelter in His wounded side, and in his Sacred Heart. It is in the Sacraments that we are strengthened to live as Theresa did. How did she live? She lived as the beloved daughter of God. She had confidence in the Merciful Love of God the Father at all times. If she failed or if she succeeded her experience never changed who she was as the Father’s beloved daughter. This truth is what caused the Church to proclaim her a Doctor of the faith. However this revelation given to her by God our Father was built upon a firm foundation. In her statue we see the foundation clearly and we can imitate her. The first foundation was the Sacraments. Our statue in Eagle Pass demonstrates this clearly. Seven roses in Theresa’s arms represent the Sacraments. Three roses are red and four are yellow. The red are baptism by which she became a daughter of God. Eucharist by which she was strengthened to live her life as his daughter, and confession by which she was healed when she sinned thus in his mercy she was reconciled with her Father. She holds the crucifix from which all graces flow. And she wears the habit of the Carmelites the vocation given to her by God the Father. The vocation that made her happy. The vocation that made her holy. The vocation that brought her peace. To those who have more will be given. The statue of the Little Flower tells you and me what we have been given. This is the foundation from which we begin our Novena to Little Theresa. Like her we have been given the Sacraments. Like her we come to Christ Crucified from whom all graces flow. And like her each of us has been given a vocation by God the Father that will bring us happiness, holiness, and peace. Before we begin asking for favors in this novena we would be wise to follow St. Theresa’s example and acknowledge what we already have been given. In doing this we will then be prepared to receive the more that our Lord Jesus promises in the Gospel, and that Little Theresa promises from Heaven.